• “Change — the kind that topples social norms and uproots orthodoxies — happens slowly at first. People don’t just cut the king’s head off. For years and even decades, they gossip about him, imagine him naked and ridiculous, and demote him from deity to fallible mortal (with a head, that can be cut). This is true for all revolutions of all sorts. Then a small group of people begin worrying among themselves, about the moral blight of humans… weighing what might be done.” (The Quiet Before… Gal Beckerman)

    Feminism, from the right to vote, through The Second Sex, VAWA and #MeToo, is the toppling of the king. After an eternity of single sex hegemony, as the myth was constructed, after the everyday ubiquity of ‘dumb blond jokes’, the king’s head was severed. And the jokes turned to ‘dumb dad’ and King of the Hill.

    Myth and reality mix and mingle while the actualities of life are obscured by the perception of what appears to be the events of the day.

    A careful look at the actualities of the lives of men and women shows, that in every age, men and women suffered equally, each in their own way. They were both cast out of the Garden of Eden. Women bore children. Men died in war. Women toiled at home and men toiled in the fields.

    One hundred thousand years of homo-sapiens saw the distribution of hardship meted out equally. Then, through a series of revolutions, agrarian, urban, industrial, and finally the age of information, the biological imperative for work and survival changed, creating new sets of socio-biological imperatives for survival that upended the ‘natural’ order.

    Manifest the problem of social change, outstripping our humble animal beginnings of male and female, leaving the Garden of Eden together as hunter gatherers, only to have our hunter gatherer bodies and brains assaulted by a modernity that is out of step with our genetic inheritance.

    Yes, we can think, have language and current social structures. Yes, we are in the 102nd millennium, conservatively speaking, with the appearance of change for the roles of men and women. Alas, appearance belies the reality that we are a single species and there is no survival unless we survive together.

    And so, with the king’s head severed, women outperforming men in every task, men plummeting from the ‘myth of male power’ to a socially emerging marginality as, ‘the other half of gender’ the lesser half, in a stark reversal of social caste.

    Mother Nature refuses to be fooled by the impulses of modernity. The  gendered protest movement in Korea, as only a single example, where the women are on strike against pregnancy and motherhood, has reduced the reproductive ratio to 0.70% while the species replacement rate is at 2.20%.

    As a species we are, if nothing else, survivors and innovators, both our problem and our salvation. We escaped the shortsightedness of women as a second class and have come to realize that any modern society only advances at the pace of women’s liberation.

    Every fire starts with a single spark.

    Of all the starkest harbingers of change, the emergence of The Congressional Dad’s Caucus, with the front and center assertion that men can carry children as well as women, and the Dad Caucus alignment with the congressional Women’s Caucus, is the wholistic sense that we are all in this together. We are a single species, male/female or if you will, female/male.

    We are one.

    Edward M. Stephens, MD
    Founder and Chair, The Foundation for Male Studies

Edward M. Stephens portrait